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Father faces mountain of healing

Kevin Mackinnon, By the Book
City Parent

How would you react ... actually, for that matter survive ... if you lost a child? It's something I do my best not to imagine, but over the last month I have been reminded of the possibilities through a couple of events for which I was the announcer.

Meaghan's Walk, a fundraiser for Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, and Victoria's Duathlon were a couple of events that served as a way to remember little girls who had died. Both were extremely emotional, both required that I introduce a parent who had gone through the unimaginable.

Both events helped those parents cope with their loss. Which is why, when it came to picking this month's book to review, Ned Levitt's No Mountain Too High - A father's inspiring journey through grief leapt out at me.

Levitt's 18-year-old daughter Stacey was run over while running in Toronto in 1995. The book recounts Levitt's life from that day onwards, offering up a blow-by-blow account of what he went through as he struggled to cope with the devastating loss.

You travel through a myriad of emotions with Levitt as you read this gripping book. Levitt's devastating grief is gradually replaced with a sense of purpose that eventually leads to the publishing of a book of Stacey's poetry, and sees Levitt climb Mt. Ixta, a mountain in Mexico that Stacey had attempted to climb before being forced to turn back because of bad weather. Levitt left a copy of Stacey's book I Am a Rose: A Life in Poetry in a box on the side of the mountain, which has become a sort of shrine for climbers as they venture towards the top.

By the end of the book you truly feel how Levitt has managed to put his life back together. He appears to have done that, to a large extent, thanks to the reactions of people touched by Stacey's words.

''No one can heal grief in another person, and time alone does not heal it,'' he writes. ''Rather, the human spirit heals itself when given an opportunity to do so.''

Levitt's opportunity came in the form of his daughter's poetry, and the things that he did with the gift she left. His story, which was also the basis for a CBC/ Vision Television documentary, is an incredible read, and will be an inspiration to all parents. Levitt, Ned, No Mountain Too High - A father's inspiring journey through grief, ECW Press, Toronto, 2004.

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